Monday, April 25, 2011

Running Barefoot, Tips to Avoid Injury

Barefoot Running is the newest craze. Look around Austin, TX, and you'll see Vibram's 5-Finger shoes everywhere... especially if you shop at Whole Foods.

Last week at the ACSM Fitness Summit, barefoot running was a Hot Topic. Unfortunately, because this is a recent (dare I say?) fad, there just isn't enough science to back up whether barefoot running is better or worse than running with running shoes.

What I can say, is that if you are planning on running on anything but a surface you are 100% positive is free of debris and has a nice soft cushion, please don't let your feet go completely naked. This is just asking for horrific injuries such as the following:

I think the perfect surface for fully bare foot running would be a golfing green, or perhaps a beach with great sand.

Now there is a huge difference between running with shoes on and running in 5-finger shoes. First of all, we've been trained to wear shoes most of our lives. We are not used to walking or running barefoot for long periods of time. Naturally we are going to toe or mid-foot strike when we are barefoot, but with shoes, we learn to heel strike. This is important.

When you start wearing barefoot shoes, you're foot is in for a rude awakening. All those muscles that have just been hanging out, relaxing in your shoes, are now going to have to work. For this reason, if you decide you need to be at one with nature, and go barefoot running, make sure you ease your way into it. Otherwise, you will have some pretty bad foot pain, possible over-use injuries, and no fun.

When you go to REI or wherever you may find these 5 finger shoes, be sure to ask the salesman what 5-Finger or Vibram recommends for breaking them in. So far, I've heard the best way is to only wear them 30 minutes at a time, slowly ease your way into an hour, and keep doubling the time over several weeks. Do not attempt running in your 5 finger shoes until you have mastered walking around in them on a daily basis.

If you choose to continue running in your shoes, make sure you have good shoes. I cannot tell you how many people I have trained who have injuries that could have been avoided if they'd been wearing better shoes. Go somewhere and get a gait analysis, make sure you are put in the proper footwear for your particular gait. If you have knee pain, or shin splints, you are probably in the wrong shoes. I know it's expensive, but it is worth the money you are going to save on surgery down the road.

(Don't worry.. you don't actually have to do a gait analysis in your underwear)

If you have any questions or want advice on this topic, please feel free to email me at

Monday, April 18, 2011

ACSM Fitness Summit Top Ten Important Facts

I went to the ACSM Fitness Summit last week, and I really enjoyed it. Not only was it amazing to visit California (I'd never been there before), it was awesome to get some of the knowledge I already had reinforced, and learn some new things. Going to these conferences seems to recenter me, and it's also nice to see the studies and statistics that back up the methods I'm using, and teach me about new ways I can help my clients get the results they need.

I decided that since it's late, and I have been really busy trying to catch up on all the work I missed while I was gone, I wanted to sum up the top 10 things I got from the conference, that I want to make sure I share with you guys. Each one I may post more detail on in the next week or two, but while it's still relatively fresh in my mind, here they are:


#2) We are an incredibly sedentary society, and all the sitting has detrimental effects on not only our weight, but also our health, I'm going to teach you new strategies to break up the sitting.

#3) High Intensity Interval Training is one of the most effective ways to boost your metabolism, shrink your waist line, and improve your athletic performance.


#5) Barefoot Running is something you need to ease into, and is not yet proven to be safe or unsafe... if you are one of my runners who is considering switching to barefoot running, please talk to me and I will give you strategies to ease into barefoot, or five finger toe shoes safely.

#6) There is some really COOL technology coming out to help all of us on our path to health and wellness, I'll do a post giving you some good links for all kinds of technological goodies!

#7) BOSU balls do NOT activate your core any more than doing the same exercise on solid ground. Just something to think about...

#8) Exercise, and full range movement actually stimulates the brain, and helps create more dendrites in the brain. It improves short term memory first, and the longer you exercise, the more this neural development spreads to the rest of the brain, making you smarter and smarter! The more ways you move the better you activate your brain.

#9) Breakfast really is important, as is getting the right amount of PROTEIN, CARBS and FATS. We need balanced nutrition. If you eat too little you will slow your metabolism and make your weight problem worse.

#10) Resistance exercise actually does burn calories, boost your metabolism, is incredibly important, and creates an after burn for several hours post-exercise. Basically it's just as good as High Intensity Interval Training, but you need both. Yay! Such good stuff. Feel free to email me with any questions.

Ohh.. and lastly... avoid large quantities of sugar...